[1] A suite of climate model experiments indicates that 20th Century increases in ocean heat content and sea-level (via thermal expansion) were substantially reduced by the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa. The volcanically-induced cooling of the ocean surface is subducted into deeper ocean layers, where it persists for decades. Temporary reductions in ocean heat content associated with the comparable eruptions of El Chichón (1982) and Pinatubo (1991) were much shorter lived because they occurred relative to a non-stationary background of large, anthropogenically-forced ocean warming. Our results suggest that inclusion of the effects of Krakatoa (and perhaps even earlier eruptions) is important for reliable simulation of 20th century ocean heat uptake and thermal expansion. Inter-model differences in the oceanic thermal response to Krakatoa are large and arise from differences in external forcing, model physics, and experimental design. Systematic experimentation is required to quantify the relative importance of these factors. The next generation of historical forcing experiments may require more careful treatment of pre-industrial volcanic aerosol loadings.